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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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Guaranteed play is gambling's ultimate package deal

31 January 2007

An innovation developed by International Game Technology (IGT) in partnership with Walker Digital Gaming is about to make betting less of a gamble and more of a package deal by guaranteeing video poker players a set number of hands for their money.

The concept is called "Guaranteed Play". Instead of buying credits you buy playing time. It'll make its debut on video poker games in Las Vegas casinos sometime soon, after which it'll likely start popping up at casinos in the Chicago area.

Depending upon which variation of quarter video poker game you choose to play (Jacks or Better, Deuces Wild, Bonus Poker, etc.) you will be able to buy 75 or 150 hands for $20. On a conventional machine, that $20 will give you 80 credits. Lose every hand playing five credits per play and your money will be gone after just 16 hands.

Putting that same twenty-dollar bill into a Guaranteed Play video poker machine will buy you 150 hands on a Jacks or Better game. The difference is your credit balance starts at zero, which means that as you play you can dip into negative territory when you lose. The hands count down on the screen as you play.

After you've played all the hands you purchased, you cash out for any positive balance you have accumulated. Your original investment is gone with any negative balance. You can opt to cash out at any time, but you forfeit any remaining hands.

"This is going to be big," said IGT's director of video poker, John Daley. "You don't buy tickets to baseball games by the inning. You get to see the entire game, no matter how long it takes. Why should playing video poker be any different?"

There are even opportunities for the concept to be expanded to other forms of electronic gaming, including video and reel slot machines.

Guaranteed Play can certainly be perceived as a bargain on the surface of things, perhaps even too good to be true. Casinos are not about to surrender even a small percentage of the edge they have on us. If anything, the true skeptic has to believe that they're going to be making even more money on Guaranteed Play.

The feature will undoubtedly appeal to gambling novices who will be more likely to take a chance knowing they are going to receive a set number of plays for their money. It will also create an opportunity for casinos to market gambling as part of overnight hotel stays by including Guaranteed Play vouchers as part of the package.

Getting back to the perceived value of the feature, keep in mind that the majority of video poker games analyzed by nationally renowned expert Bob Dancer in his Win Poker 4.2 CD reflect a fairly consistent rate of around 50 percent winning or break-even hands. Theoretically speaking this makes Guaranteed Play a bargain.

Also to be taken under consideration is return on investment as a player's club member. If you get lucky with a premium hand early on after putting your twenty bucks in a conventional credit game, you have the opportunity to "churn" a lot of money and in the process accrue points, take advantage of promotional multipliers, and build equity in same-day and bounce-back cash. With Guaranteed Play, no matter how long you play, all you're credited for is your original double sawbuck.

The most crucial factor, however, is the kind of pay tables that will be offered on the games. Given the fact optimum video poker pay tables give expert players the opportunity to play for theoretical percentage payback in the high 90s, my guess is Guaranteed Play pay tables will dip into the stingy range.

CASINO NEWS: Majestic Star Casinos in Gary will be giving away a Chrysler 300 Luxury Sedan valued at $25,000 on Feb. 15 in the property's "Free Ride" giveaway. Club Majestic player's club members earn entries based on play. Also at the Majestic, "Friday Night Fever" continues with Friday night drawings at 10 pm for five guaranteed cash winners of $500 each, two of which get the opportunity to play "Catch the Fever" and the chance to win prizes of up to $10,000.

Argosy's Empress Casino & Hotel in Joliet is hosting the "Fire & Ice" promotion every Friday and Sunday now through Feb. 25. Players are guaranteed to win a cash prize each drawing day with a chance to play the interactive "Fire & Ice" game for the chance to win a 2007 Mercedes Benz C280, a 2007 BMW 382i, or precious gem stones.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp